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‘In Lieu of Flowers’ Alternatives and Etiquette

If when an obituary is written the family would prefer an alternative to flowers – a gift, donation to charity etc.- then the phrase “in lieu of flowers” is used. But as it’s not a phrase that is very well known it is often misinterpreted to mean don’t send flowers, rather than what the family may have intended.

That’s why knowing the etiquette of using “in lieu of flowers” is important. For both the family of the deceased who are making the request and also those attending the funeral/wanting to send their condolences it makes sense to be familiar with what it genuinely means.

That way you can be sure you do the right thing: be that making the request you want for your deceased loved one or sending the correct memorial that the family has asked for.

So we’ll take a look at the etiquette surrounding “in lieu of flowers” and then some alternatives wordings you can use instead to ensure everything is as clear as possible.

What Does In Lieu of Flowers Mean?

‘In lieu of flowers’ is another way to say “instead of flowers”. It is used by families after a loss to request alternatives to flowers that are sent to the funeral.

It is often used in obituaries or funeral invitations. It lets those planning to attend a memorial or funeral to do something other than send flowers.

One common request is for a charitable donation rather than flowers. But families may also prefer a different sort of gift or expression of sympathy – something like financial help towards the funeral service.

Flowers hold different meaning to different people. Some may not be able to imagine a funeral without lovely arrangements and bouquets, others may prefer that money to go to something they see as more worthy. Some would like a mixture of both.

There is no wrong or right in this situation. As a funeral is a deeply personal event and it comes down to the families preference.

If you are planning a funeral then and would prefer something ‘in lieu of flowers’ then it’s perfectly acceptable to ask.

If you aren’t sure of the etiquette surrounding the asking for alternatives to flowers and how to go about it then keep reading as we will discuss it further.

In Lieu of Flowers Etiquette

There is some etiquette around the use of ‘in lieu of flowers’. If you aren’t exactly sure how to use it or the correct way then follow the rules below to ensure you get things right.

Etiquette for Charity Donation Requests

The most common request in lieu of flowers is for charitable donations. Follow these etiquette tips to make sure you get everything right:

  • The amount of money you donate to a charity should be at least the same as you would have spent on flowers. If you feel like you can or want to donate more then do so.
  • When you send your donation to the charity let them know that it is being made in the name or memory of the deceased.
  • The charity will want to notify the family of the deceased that a donation has been made in their name. Give them the address of the next of kin or closest relative.
  • Be sure to also let the charity know your name and address so that the family knows it was from you and can send a thank you note or card if they want to.

Etiquette for Both Flowers and a Donation

You may decide to do as the family request and make a charitable donation but also send flowers to the funeral. If so then follow these tips:

  • Stick to the etiquette for donations as listed above. It all still applies.
  • When you send your flowers include a note or sympathy card that makes it clear you also made a donation too. This will show the family that you followed their wishes as well as sending flowers.
  • Before you send the flowers be absolutely sure the family will be ok with you doing both. A request of in lieu of flowers can sometimes be because they don’t want any flowers, full stop. In which it’s best to respect their wishes.

In Lieu of Flowers Wording Examples

If you aren’t sure what words to use when writing in lie of flowers and how to make your requests then these examples should help.

  • The family welcomes donations to [charity’s name] in lieu of flowers.
  • Any donations made in lieu of flowers will go to [deceased name’s] chosen charity that was close to their heart.
  • Whilst flowers are appreciated the family would also welcome donations both charitable and toward the funeral costs.
  • In lieu of flowers the family asks that any memorial donations or contributions be made to [receiver].
  • We are choosing to honor [deceased’s name] with donations to charity rather than flowers.
  • To guarantee that the funeral pays proper tribute to [deceased’s name] the family is foregoing flowers and asking for financial assistance to cover the funeral expenses.
  • Instead of flowers the family would be grateful for help with the funeral costs.
  • In lieu of flowers if you would like to offer anything towards the funeral please get in contact with the family.
  • In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate it if you would use the digital guestbook to share a memory of [deceased’s name].

in lieu of flowers wording example

What to Say Instead of ‘In Lieu of Flowers’

If you prefer to use something other than in lieu of flowers as part of your obituary or funeral invitation then these alternative wording examples should help:

For Charitable Donations

Requesting donations to a charity in lieu of sending flowers is one of the more popular alternatives. These phrases and examples can be used in an obituary.

  • [deceased’s name] wished that any tributes be made in the firm of a charitable donation, preferably to [charity’s name].
  • It is the family’s request that anyone wishing to express their sympathy please do so by making a donation to a charity of their choosing.
  • In memory of [deceased name] we would prefer donations to [charity name] rather than flowers.
  • The family requests that in remembrance of [deceased name] please send donations to your favorite charity.

For Help with Funeral Expenses

Some families ask for a donation to help with the funeral expense instead of flowers. Not having the necessary insurance or being unprepared by a sudden death may mean the family left behind can’t meet the costs of a funeral. If that’s the case then the following wording examples ask for assisting with the funeral expenses:

  • Any donations towards the funeral expenses will be greatly appreciated. They can be made to [receiver].
  • The family requests any tributes or donations be made in name of [deceased’s name] funeral fund.
  • If you feel able to donate to the funeral fund of [deceased’s name] then you can do so through [receiver].
  • The family appreciates any donations to assist with the funeral expenses and they can be made through [receiver].

in lieu of flowers example

For Multiple Choices

You can also leave it open to those attending the funeral or sending their sympathy to decide whether they want to send flowers or do something else.

  • Any expression of sympathy can be made however you wish.
  • Contributions to the funeral, charitable donations or flowers are all equally appreciated and welcomed.
  • Cards, contributions or donations and flowers will be warmly welcomed.
  • Whatever expression of sympathy you see fit, be that flowers, donations or cards will be greatly appreciated.


‘In lieu of flowers’ etiquette snd wording can cause problems for both the deceased’s family and those attending the funeral.

As the family it’s important you decide how you want people to memorialize your passed loved one. So choose your words carefully and be sure that is how the deceased would have wanted to be remembered.

As a guest or mourner it’s safest to follow the wishes of the family and whatever they have asked for. However, sending flowers alongside their requests is usually acceptable too.

in lieu of flowers etiquette and alternatives

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